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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  January 14, 2014 5:00pm-5:31pm EST

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>> this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm tony harris with a look at today's top stories. just an hour ago new jersey governor chris christie used his state of the state address to make another apology over the scandals that threaten to tarnish his administration and presidential ambitions. >> now the last week several has tested this administration. stakes were clearly made. as a result we let down the people we're entrusted to serve. i know our citizens deserve better, much better. >> testifying in front of the senate judicial committee about the nsa program. the group is recommending a
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number of changes including how the national security agency collects data. president obama will unveil his recommendations on friday. egyptians went to the poll to approve a new constitution. if approved this is the third constitution in three years. president morsi and followers are boycotting the day-two vote. i'm tony harris in new york. "inside story" is next. if you would like the latest on any of these stories on this news hour head to www.aljazeera.com. that's www.aljazeera.com. >> big powers are talking more honestly to each other about syria. it's less clear what that means to the assad government in damascus. that's the inside story.
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>> hello, i'm ray suarez. during the long bloody slog of the syrian war a certain rhythm has long since set in. lots of movement, lots of violence, lots of death, lots of international concern and then nothing. nothing but strike and counter strikes, denunciations from the united nations nothing while syrians continue to flee and die in horrifying numbers. but secretary of state john kerry while pushing for movement in the israeli-palestinian conflict and broker a non-proliferation deal with iran has been pushing hard to the end of the fighting in syria. >> u.s. secretary of state john
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kerry is not taking no for an answer on his trip to europe and the middle east this week. an in fact, he told the syrian national coalition leaders if they don't attend peace talks in switzerland on january 22nd the u.s. will pull its support. >> i'm counting on both parties as well as the 30 or so plus other nations to come together in an effort to try to end this violence. >> reporter: syrian president bashar al-assad's government has said it will attend the geneva 2 summit, but opposition factions are still fighting over whether they should engage. [ explosion ] >> reporter: the opposition coalition is made up of various armed militias united in fighting against the state, including the free syrian arm, andy hadists and islamists from neighboring countries and
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kurdish groups. targeting the isil, over 700 people have died in the last ten days. >> if disorder is allowed to continue to grow, it is extremists who will benefit, and it's all the people who want a peaceful solution and stability who will lose. that includes russia, the united states, and others in the region. >> reporter: earlier this week kerry and ten other global envoys met over syria's situation in paris. with russia supporting syria as assad and russia backing the opposition coalition, kerry stat down with russian foreign minister. >> we will send signals to all the syrian side for a need of cease-fire. and a need to look at the possibility of exchanging prisoners including civilians.
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we're working on widening humanitarian access on areas that are currently blocked. >> they agree on three possible confidence building measures including access to humanitarian aid. an example used was the damascus suburb where around 160,000 people are trapped by fighting. prisoner exchange, which the syrian opposition says it's ready to engage in, and regional cease-fire specifically in the war-torn city of aleppo. one issue the u.s. and russia remain divided on is iran's role in the peace talks. as a staunch ally and weapons supplier, iran is a key influence in the syrian conflict by supporting it's own interests there. russia said the iranian delegation should be present in geneva. >> i'm always ready to go to geneva without pre-conditions. we're prepared to participate
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actively and positively in finding any peaceful resolution to the syrian crisis 37 but the u.s. said nothing will be accepted until iran accepts the june 21 talks. >> iran has yet to state whether it supports the geneva 1 communique which calls for nothing but mutual consent to the parties of a transitional governing process, to make peace. >> allies see this as a which to make assad step down. the dynamics of the u.s. and iranian talks are evolving. the six-month timeline of the implementation of the nuclear agreement. >> if iran is willing to walk through the door of opportunity
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that is presented to them, then i have no doubt that it can open up extraordinary opportunities for iran and their people. >> the agreement will open up iran's nuclear program to daily expects by international experts for exchange relief of economic sanctions. >> it means that the wall of sanctions are broken. the unfair sanctions were imposed on the peace-loving iranian nation. >> reporter: next on kerry's tour is kuwait city focusing again on the war in syria. the u.n. has appealed for $6.5 billion in donations, the largest request ever for a single crisis. since the beginning of syrians up rising in 2011 more than 130,000 people have died as a result of the fighting and gnarlnearly 9 million more haven
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displaced. >> the challenge for syria for the world and for the people of syria today is today's inside story. joining me now from istanbul is a member of the syrian national coalition, and an adviser to coalition adviser. how come the snc has not been able to agree to attend the geneva summit? >> as you know, for the general assembly has held a meeting before the last one, and issued a statement for the right environment for the geneva two to succeed. so we have discussed the issue of discussing geneva in details, and we felt that there is clarifications that has to be made from our allies and mainly the core group of the 11 countries supporting the syrian people's struggle.
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and attending the conference in paris these issues were discussed, and the clear position from these countries was given specifically that basis of the conference to be the full implementation of geneva, one communique, and also to start negotiations with the subject of establishing a transitioning governing body with full power including the security services. these assurances were given. plus the most important assurance that when you are with answer transition period, you cannot have assad as part of this transition or the political future of syria. >> to see if i understand you, the syrian national coalition is looking at the situation now, and has concluded that if there is not an understanding on the part of all the parties that
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assad is going to leave office, you can't come to the talks? >> no, what i'm saying that is our position, which we will fight for from the negotiation tables, and we want to make sure that our allies, the u.s. and european countries and the regional countries support this position. the regime has not said anything about this subject, except they're insisting on the president of assad, and russia has no clear position. so we have to unify our side of the negotiation, and this we ask our allies to reconfirm for us. >> by leaving open the possibility of not going to switzerland, are you requesting losing international support and also pro longing the fighting?
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>> well, we look at the political solution and main solution even after military front, sit at the negotiation table and come up with a political solution. but we need to make sure that this process by itself is not, you know, to prolong the current crisis in syria, but to solve it. in order to solve it we have to have a base for it which is geneva communique, and that commitment for establishing the transition and governing body. >> so without a concession from the assad government that the leader is going to leave office, there is no possibility for ending this war? >> the war, and this is an evolution, and it's not a war. it's an evolution of the people of syria seeking to regain their
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constitutional rights and their human rights, and dictatorship of assad regime. there is no solution to the crisis if he remains in power. he is the subject of differences, and he is the cause of all of these crisis. >> stay with us. we're going to take a break. when we come back we'll talk with new panelists about the situation today in syria and what the world can do going forward. this is inside stir. "inside story."
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i say clearly it's productivity. we need to produce more, better. so we -- we are talking about the offer. it does -- it is think -- it is -- this pact covers five subjects. the first is the per sued of the lightning of the [ inaudible ]. we have started, which i >> joining the conversation is joshua landi at the university of oklahoma. and nadir hashami, director of middle east studies at the university of denver.
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denver. joshua landis, let me start with you. whahas the united states made progress in stopping the fighting in syria. >> well, it hasn't made a lot of progress. the worry on the talk, assad is quite powerful on the ground. he has made a lot of advances. this leads to the concern that you would get rebel to the north and regime syria to the south. they don't want that. they want to overturn assad. their real beef is to hold the american's feet to the fire and make them deliver on this promise that they made at geneva one that assad would step down. they don't have the power to do that themselves.
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that's what's going on right now. admit to the position that assad has to go. obama said that early in his fight. he perhaps regrets it today, but america has been stepping back from at a position and stopped supplying arms, stopped supplying aid of any kind to the rebels. that is in part the game that's being played here on a lead up to this geneva two meeting. >> now that assad must go has been the position of the united states from the beginning, or close to the beginning, but assad has two very important and potent region alabam regional an russia. >> reporter: they're backing them, and joshua landis
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correctly pointed out in his comments that without any pressure on the ground, without political power, military power to remove assad there is no reason for him to leave. he's not going to stand up and say, well, my family--myself and my family have been in power for 43 years, now it's time to switch it to democracy. so he's riding very high in the political stakes in syria today. he has strong regional backing. the opposition is fragmented, weak, and there is no sense that anything positive is going to come out of the meetings in switzerland unless there is political force that can push the assad regime to agree to a political transition to a better government a future government. >> professor, looking at what's gone on over the last year and a half why aren't iran and russia looking past assad to the eventual leaders of the country?
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what is the use of having an ally who is the kingdom of the republic in a denuded state with most of its population outside of the national borders and a totally destroyed infrastructure? >> that's a good question. that's a question that i think had much more potency and relevancy a couple of years ago. now it seems that assad is stronger than he was six months ago. he seems to be riding out this political conflict. both russia and iran have different interests. for iran the stakes are use. iran has been heavily invested in preserving the assad regime. it knows if the asad regime falls its regional clout diminishes by a huge proportion. it's doing everything it cannot for reasons of political theology or anything that has to do with religion but sure naked
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power calculations. if assad leaves power, saudi sai arainens will increase power. based on today's calculations that iran and russia are winning. >> what about that suggestion, that bashar al-assad is more in control of syria than people realize, and stronger than people gave him credit for earlier in this war? >> actually i don't share this analysis or view. his power relies on foreign players in the syrian crisis. he lost his reserve of manpower to fight his war. they came to aid him, hezbollah has now become a part of the fight in syria coming from
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lebanon. militias coming from iraq and others. so that is a clear indication that he is now surviving using foreign aid and foreign aid to his regime. >> professor landis is there a risk for those phoners who are getting involved? they get a bloody nose like as has been just mentioned. >> the bigger risk is if they lose. the shiite alo alouite collapse. if they allow their allies in syria to collapse and be defeated by saudi arabia and the
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sunnies, this would an bigelow to their allies, hezbollah, iraq, but it would be a big boost to saudi arabia. so they're holding the line to overturn iranian interests. this gets us to the larger questions of shiites versus sunnies, and russia versus the white house. so it's linked up on various levels of an international struggle. >> we'll look at the power surrounding syria has turns out to have a big stake in its future. this is inside story.
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activists show the
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>> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. there are talks scheduled in switzerland later this month but it's unconcern which parties of the crisis will be at the table. let's talk more about what professor landis brought up just before the break, that now both the united states and russia have a big stake in what happens in damascus. he can't hear us. i'll move on, i was interested, sir, in knowing what happened to syria? if you look at the history after world war ii at mai many countrs in the region there was a heavy emphasis on nationalism that stressed being syrian over
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christian, sunni, shia, or sun sunni. what happened to national over the things that now divide your countries? >> for sure they continue to have a lot of pride in their national belongings, and their regional belongings belonging to arab areas. we look to free syria, and to regain our rights as a people to reunite ou constitution, and reelect our leadersed a free citizens under one country, under one flag. >> professor, joshua landis both
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managed that russia is watching very closely. this feels like 1965 or 1955, not 2014. >> it does. i think russia is asserting itself. it's called obama's bluff on many occasions particularly after the use of chemical weapons. and obama due to a number of issues related to the iraq war a failing economy, the focus of the nuclear deal has refused to challenge the russian position. they're effectively setting the course and the pace on a number of diplomatic negotiations, and that's where we got to where we are today. >> did the united states have a
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lousy hand, and perhaps with the setting of red lines, boundaries and setting down of pre-conditions only made it worse? >> in part that's true. certainly this contest has been going on for some time. russia believes quite strongly that syria and perhaps other countries in the region are not ready for democracy, that they need a strong man to lead them. somebody a little bit like putin and russia itself. and that america has taken the view that democracy is the answer for these regimes. we did try to assert democracy in iraq and afghanistan. we now have lost our confidence on this score. i think president obama did not want and feel that syria was a country that he wanted to double down in and prove that democracy would work in syria. he has abandoned the field, and he has allowed the sunnies in a
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he is pens--we deified russia and took afghanistan away from the russian had bee russians. and in this hand america is deferring to russia in syria because it does not have very deep interests in syria. we have not had relations in syria for 30 years. we have sanctions on them. we have no trade. syria is not a major interest for the united states. that's why problem wants to try to add. >> you heard what joshua landis just had to say. the various armies in the field
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fighting ali velshi, they do want that dictator gone. >> the majority of the syrians are the ones who are not taking part in this fight, and they have to be sure that their voices are heard, and they are the one who will go up the future of syria and make sure that it's safe, free and democratic for our future. >> thank you all. that brings us to to the end of
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this edition of inside story. from washington, i'm ray suarez. >> she's known as baby veronica, and she was the center of a high profile custody battle. her adoptive parents are white. her father is native american, and he has been fighting for her along side his tribe. the case went all the way to the united states supreme court. at the heart of the case is the indian child welfare act or iqwa which tries to keep if children to their tribes. it was in response when a highly number of native children were removed from their families and placed with

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